Controversial YouTub star Shane Dawson has prompted backlash after sharing photos of himself and his husband, Ryland Adams, with the two twin boys the couple purchased via surrogacy. Concerned social media users were quick to point out that Dawson has a history of making sexually predatory comments about children and animals.
In a post on Instagram announcing that he has received the children from the surrogate, Dawson wrote:“There’s no words to express how it feels to be the fathers of these two beautiful boys. The best day of our entire lives and nothing else will ever compare.”
Dawson also thanked his fans for their support but made no reference to the woman who carried and gave birth to the infants.
Reacting to the news that Dawson and Adams now had custody of two babies, many people online began sharing Dawson’s controversial past comments and demanded child protective services get involved.
“Disgusted doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel [right now],” one user said, with her post racking up over 160,000 likes. Thousands of other users shared similar sentiments, concerned about Dawson’s fitness to parent two infant boys.
Dawson rose to internet fame in the early days of YouTube. He started his first channel, ShaneDawsonTV, in 2008 as a young adult, specialising in amateur comedy sketches often featuring characters based on racial stereotypes.
After gaining millions of particularly young followers, Dawson moved away from comedy sketches and began posting videos on conspiracy theories in 2015 before shifting into documentary filmmaking in 2018. Today, his channel primarily focuses on daily vlogs and podcasting with his husband and friends. Dawson and Adams began dating in 2016 and recently got married earlier this year.
Much of the backlash against Dawson surrounds his past remarks concerning racism, pedophilia, and bestiality.
In 2020, during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, Dawson published a video entitled “Taking Accountability” wherein he apologized for his past use of blackface and racial slurs. But other clips from his early days on YouTube similarly began to receive backlash around that time, specifically those showing Dawson making pedophilic comments about children.
In one of the most controversial clips that resurfaced, Dawson was seen pretending to masturbate to a poster of then-11 year old singer Willow Smith. Smith’s mother, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and older brother, Jaden Smith, both took to social media to express disgust at the clip in 2020.
Another clip from a 2014 podcast had a similarly disturbing theme, with Dawson recalling a conversation with a 6-year-old fan. He referred to the child as “attractive” and when met with disgust by his co-host, he attempted to defend pedophilia as a fetish.
“She shows me her Instagram, and first of all, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but she was kind of sexy,” Dawson said about the little girl.
“Having sex with children or touching children is terrible, and you should not do it,” he quickly said. “But, here’s my thing – people have foot fetishes. People have fetishes about everything…”
Dawson has also admitted to searching for child sexual abuse materials, claiming that he “didn’t understand” why some individuals were “turned on” by children, but then went on to say he found naked babies sexually attractive.
“I Google photos of ‘naked baby,’ they were sexy… [ha ha] just joking,” Dawson said on the Shane and Friends Podcast, before questioning why it was illegal to masturbate to images of naked infants.
“Why is it when someone looks at a picture of a naked baby and jerks off to it, they can get arrested?”
In another episode of Shane and Friends, his co-host shared a news story of a man who raped a 4-month-old infant and killed her. Shane laughed and said “amazing,” before speculating how the baby would have suffered during the assault.
Other predatory content of Dawson’s that emerged were multiple videos from his early days on Youtube that featured his young female cousin. Dawson often made sexual jokes towards the young girl, described sex to her, and even encouraged her to “twerk” on camera. The child was reported to be around 12 years old at the time.
“Good job but next time shake your titties more,” Dawson was heard instructing his cousin in one of the clips.
At one point in his career, the distress towards Dawson’s sexual comments regarding children became so intense that he was forced to address concerns in a video. During the recording, Dawson angrily exclaimed “I AM NOT A FUCKING PEDOPHILE.”
Dawson’s highly disturbing comments have not been limited to children, and he has also been known to make similarly sexual comments towards animals.
In a 2015 episode of his podcast, Shane described sexually assaulting his cat.
“One time I laid my cat down on her back and I moved her little chicken legs spread open… and I was like if I hump on her belly that’s not weird.”
Other sexual content of Dawson’s featuring animals include multiple clips of him simulating sexual acts on his pet dogs. Dawson and his husband also purchased a kitten in 2020, with the pet only surviving in their custody for one week before being mauled to death by one of their dogs.
Dawson and Adams have been documenting their journey with commercial surrogacy on Adam’s Youtube Channel, Ryland Vlogs. On the channel, the pair explained that they were surprised how quickly they were matched with a surrogate mother.
“We’re going to meet her… and knock her up,” Dawson joked regarding the surrogate they were matched with.
The couple had a typical “maternity” photoshoot to celebrate their surrogate’s pregnancy, but the surrogate did not appear in any of the photos.
Dawson’s new custody of two babies via surrogacy has led many to question safeguarding standards in the surrogacy industry. Many have pointed out that due to Dawson’s history, the couple would most likely not have been approved to adopt.
Child safeguarding advocates have noted that the surrogacy industry has facilitated predators gaining access to children. In some cases, registered sex offenders have used commercial surrogacy to access children.
In 2015, an Australian couple gained international attention after they were accused of abandoning a baby boy in Thailand that was conceived via surrogacy because the child was born with Downs Syndrome. The couple absconded with only the boy’s healthier twin sister.
During legal battles, it was revealed that the father of the twins was a registered sex offender and was previously convicted of sexually abusing young girls. Despite his criminal history, he was awarded custody of the female child during a battle with the twin’s birth mother.
In yet another disturbing case from the industry, a gay couple who purchased a baby boy from a Russian surrogate were sentenced to a combined total of 70 years in prison after systematically sexually abusing the boy from birth.
Mark J. Newton and Peter Truong were arrested in Los Angeles in 2011 after police discovered videos of their surrogate child being sexually abused that had been circulating amongst other pedophiles. Police believe Newton and Truong had purchased the boy “for the sole purpose of exploitation.”
Prior to being discovered for their sickening acts, Newton and Truong had been positively profiled by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as an example of an LGBT couple struggling to have children due to biases.
Earlier this year, independent outlet Reduxx detailed the case of a convicted child rapist from Spain who had launched an international “surrogacy empire” with one of the children he abused. An investigation into Barcelona-based surrogacy company Subrogalia found that founder José María Hill Prados had assisted individuals arrange fictitious marriages, falsify documents to smuggle babies out of Ukraine, and trade children for profit.